Two Faces

My magical friend Dan introduced me to a very interesting concept: that our faces contain both a conscious projection, and an unconscious one.

According to this theory, the right side of my face is controlled by the active decision of my brain, and therefore on that side you are seeing what I want you to see.  But the left side of the face isn't consciously controlled: it therefore displays the deeper, truer me.  And sometimes the contrast, between what we portray and what we actually are, can be pretty striking.

When this was being explained to me, it was illustrated with this famous portrait:

Adolf

Straightforward picture of a bad man, right?  But when you split it up into right and left [click on the images for bigger versions] an interesting perspective develops:


Adolfright

 

Right: Authoritative, steely, determined, tough.

These are Adolf Hitler's consciously-displayed characteristics.

 

 

 

Adolfleft

 

But on the unconscious side, there is softness, possibly even sadness.

The eye almost looks fearful, and the general impression is of insecurity.  The inner-man underlying the monster, perhaps.

 

 

 

Fascinating, isn't it?  Well I think so.  So I've tried it out on some more people:

 

GRAHAM NORTON

Graham nortonGraham norton right   striking & confident vs weary & angry  Graham norton left

 

PETER SELLERS

Peter-Sellers
Peter-Sellersright smiling, at-ease vs sad, introverted PeterSellersleft

 

 

BRYN PALMER [BBC Sport]

Bryn_palmer

BrynPalmerright boyish, easy-going vs macho, scheming Brynpalmerleft

 

Try it for yourself – it's great for psychoanalysing famous people (and no one can prove you wrong!).  Sometimes really interesting contrasts present themselves, sometimes not.

But the thing that I notice is that the right-side (the consciously-projected side) is the one that is, in nearly all cases, most recognisable – most like we expect.  It's as if, because we read from left to right, we naturally look at that side first, giving it precedence, and missing the 'hidden' side.  I wonder if Arabic/Hebrew readers do the same?

Anyway, one more to finish: me.  This was taken when out for dinner with my American family, at a Jordanian restaurant that we like.

 

Myself

MyselfRightMyselfLeft
It appears that I was perhaps happier
and more relaxed on the inside
than I was able to make myself show!
Which I'm sure Maria (who was next to me)
and her family will be happy to know 🙂

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Two Faces

  1. Two things struck me about this. The lighting in some of the pictures (particularly the Graham Norton one) appears to make a big difference to perception. The other is that after looking through some facebook photos of myself, I realised I do two things. If I wink, it’s with the left eye and if I muck around with my eyebrows (often), it’s usually to lower the right and raise the left. Both these things increase the comic nature of the left, while maintaining (or increasing) seriousness on the right.

  2. Yep, you’re right about the lighting – I wonder if photographers light from that side as part of their craft, or whether it’s just a coincidence with the Norton & Hitler ones?
    With me, if I ‘half smile’, it is always the right of my mouth, but with eyebrows, I’m the same as you – lower the right and raise the left. If I’d listened properly at the time I’d be able to comment on whether eyebrows are core parts of this theory or not…

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